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A LARGE winter type low pressure system just offshore will continue to bring periods of rain showers and snow showers to elevations above 3000 feet through Monday. A break in the active weather pattern is then expected on Tuesday and Wednesday. (NWS)
ELK STORE BREAK-IN
Holiday season bummer. Someone broke our front door last night and stole thousands of dollars of merchandise. They also broke our “antique” built-in counter cash drawer, which only holds a nominal amount of change. That drawer doesn’t even lock, and they didn’t take anything from it. We are bummed, it’s a hard time of year for small businesses on the coast as it is.
Thanks to Elk neighbor/friend John Zucker for alerting us this morning, and for showing up with plywood and screws before we got there.
DID ANYONE SEE THIS ACCIDENT?
I am wondering about the following:
I was involved in a car accident last Monday, 11/28, in Yorkville, at approximately 1:15pm.
The accident occurred directly in front of my home. I was waiting to turn into my driveway. I was in the northwest lane (towards Boonville) waiting for the oncoming vehicles to pass, to make my turn.
I was rear-ended by a UPS delivery van.
I’m asking if anyone has pictures of the accident seen and/or did anyone witness any part of the accident?
I could not tell if any vehicles were behind the UPS vehicle.
If yes to any of the above, please contact me-Thank you
By the grace of God and local, marvelous, trained, dedicated volunteer-fire, ambulance, EMT-(Anderson Valley Rock Stars), & Reach-pilots, nurses, etc-I am ok.
Alive, functioning, and forever Grateful and Blessed.
ANDERSON VALLEY VILLAGE Calendar of Events
REDWOOD CLASSIC FINALS
Once again, I am providing the final scores, quarter scores, and top scorers. I am also providing the All-Tourneys.
Final score: 64-84 to Round Valley.
Anderson Valley: 6 15 26 17
Round Valley: 23 25 16 20
Anderson Valley: Noah Sanchez 17; Andres Garcia 17
Round Valley: Bob Whipple 30
Game 10 - Consolation Championship
Final score: 39-51 to Averroes
CSD: 6 9 13 11
Averroes: 13 16 13 9
CSD: Elijah Fabela 10
Averroes: Mustafa Mahmoud 15; Haafiz Mojaddedi 15
Game 11 - Third Place
Final score: 85-86 to Valley Christian
Pinewood: 21 17 16 31
Valley Christian Academy: 22 21 25 18
Pinewood: Thomas 30
Valley Christian Academy: Chris Donker 26
Game 12 - Championships
Final score: 33-51 to Priory
Stuart Hall: 2 12 12 7
Priory: 10 9 15 17
Stuart Hall: Brett Jasper 9
Priory: Steve Emeneke 16
All Tourney players: #4 Chris Donker, Valley Christian Academy; #5 Thomas, Pinewood; #2 Sterling Luddington-Simmons, Stuart Hall; #1 Rostand Olama Abanda, Priory; #24 Steve Emeneke, Priory
I have seasoned Madrone and Black Oak for sale! Also, if you have trees that have gone down at your property, and you want removed, give me a call. If you have brush you want removed, roads that you want built, drive ways that need to be re-graveled, trees trimmed, brush burning, stump removal, carpentry, fencing, irrigation, excavation work, septic installation, etc: give me a call at (707) 621-2066
PHONE PROBS? CALL JIM WOOD!
I have noticed that many people have the same problem I do: our AT&T landline goes out and we can never get a repair person to fix it. That’s because AT&T does not want to maintain their copper land lines and they are hoping local customers will just give up out of a exasperation.
There is a solution that I have found that works — Call Assemblymember Jim Wood’s office at 707-463-5770 and ask for help. After doing this our phone service was restored one day later after having been out for over two weeks. We all need to do this to make sure AT&T keeps maintaining our land lines.
PS. Thanks to all who voted! Democracy lives on to fight another day in 2024!
JENNIFER STONE, 1933 - 2022
Go Easy, and If You Can’t Go Easy, Go As Easy As You Can
Jennifer Stone has the mind it takes to mind the media; her essays, armed with wit, irony and informed outrage are battle hymns of survival for both mind and media.— Erik Bauersfeld, KPFA and voice of Captain Ackbar
Jennifer Stone is what Kelts call a ‘mouthy woman.’— Keltic Fringe, Spring 1993
Someone once wrote only the dead tell the truth and then not for some years.— Jennifer Stone
KPFA broadcaster Jennifer Stone has passed away at the age of 88, just shy of her 89th birthday. She took up the medium of radio, as she told us in her best Mae West impression, “When I lost my looks, honey.” For 40 years Jennifer was on KPFA, with her programs, Stone’s Throw and Mind Over Media. Jennifer was an old school monologist of the highest order. She had an epic presence, through the resonance of her voice, her trained actor’s timing, her epic sighs, and apt one liners. Jennifer used her radio spot to express the zeitgeist of the times and to express herself, with the hard fought wisdom of a woman ahead of her time. She struggled to break free of the constraints that bound many women of her generation to devote her entire life to writing, performing and broadcasting.
Jennifer Stone was born in Tucson Arizona in 1933. Her mother died when she was 13. She writes about it in her novel, Over by the Caves,
“Sometime in April, 1947, I attended the funeral of my mother. My mother’s name was Kirsten, my father called her Kiki. After World War II, my mother divorced my father but it was too late, she died anyway. We were both quite young at the time. She was nearly 44 and I was nearly 14.”
Her father sent her to Mills College. She didn’t know what Mills College was, but quickly found an intellectual and spiritual home there, graduating with a degree in theater arts in 1955. She studied acting in New York, met a man, got married, returned to the Bay Area and had two sons. She moved back to Berkeley in 1966 after her divorce. “I’d rather be lonely alone.” She describes this time post divorce, trying to be a poet in Berkeley, raising two boys, working as a public school teacher, hanging out at the Mediterraneum cafe, picking up men and surviving sexual assault in her book Telegraph Avenue Then.
“I indulge myself writing notes in a drunken delirium of maudlin self-pity ‘You always told me I enjoyed my suffering. Well, someone should. Men bring out the masochist in me.’ Later I find these notes scattered on my desk, in my purse, pinned to the walls and scribbled across the kitchen cupboards. Thus begins many a female’s literary career.”
She became a film critic for The Berkeley Monthly, a television critic for the women’s newspaper, Plexus, with a column, TV or Not. She was the poetry editor at Shameless Hussy Press and a regular contributor to the Berkeley magazine City Miner and the feminist bookstore newsletter, Mama Bear’s News and Notes. Her fiction also appeared in Mother Jones magazine among many other often underground publications.
Mind Over Media her essays on film and television was published in 1988. Stone’s Throw her selected essays on literature and politics won the 1989 Before Columbus, American Book Award.
Her KPFA programs starting in the 1980s gave her voice a wide reach.
“You always have to work within the zeitgeist, that’s the thing of it. I try to understand what is going on in the wider culture and what is going on next door.”
She leaves behind a huge volume of monologues from the short, Mind Over Media spots that ran on the on the Morning Show, to her weekly Stone’s Throw show on up until just a few years ago when they became monthly as her health started to fail.
In the introduction to Stone’s Throw, Jennifer writes,
“As a woman I am anxious to be heard as a serious scholar, yet I want always to be open to what Toni Morrison has called ‘eruptions of funk.’ I have tried to be honest rather than sincere. The sincerity of our age is making us sick. Honesty is the work of a lifetime.”
And Jennifer did indeed do a lifetime of honest work for us all to hear. She truly was the hero in her own story, told to the world in her words and in a style all her own.
Rest in Peace Jennifer Stone!
(via Larry Bensky)
MENDO NATIONAL FOREST ROADS
Road Conditions Update: Please wait until the weather clears and roads dry out before heading into the forest. We have received reports of vehicles stuck in freezing temperatures for several hours.
This week’s storms have brought snow, ice and downed trees. In some areas the snow level has reached down to 2,800 ft. Another winter storm is expected to arrive tomorrow, Saturday-Monday.
In addition to safety concerns, driving over excessively wet, muddy or frozen areas in the winter damages the road surface, and costs thousands of dollars per mile to resurface. One foot of snow is enough for a vehicle to get stuck.
Roads are not plowed or maintained through the winter and may be impassable in different locations. You can check our road conditions page for more info, but know that road conditions could change at any time: bit.ly/3izH25a
(US Forest Service)
JOHN TOOHEY has brilliantly pulled off the resumption of the Redwood Classic basketball tournament, the Northcoast’s oldest. He even made the trophies! “I made them last night about 2am - learning how to put on a tournament for the first time, some details slipped through the cracks, like trophies, so I scrambled to put them together. Fortunately, the school has a laser etcher and a router. In coming years I want design classes to design and build all the awards for the tournaments - imagine an entire redwood round c n c routed or laser etched with the championship message - this tournament could have a lot of cross academic application - students on campus could see their work matter and mean something. This tournament has huge potential for the community.”
TRULY GREAT REPORTING from one of the last truly independent giants of the genre, Matt Taibbi. Thanks to Taibbi, and Musk, we now know what we suspected, that; Twitter execs responded they “handled” two requests from Team Biden to remove content about Hunter Biden’s leaked laptop files.
Musk, via Taibbi, revealed the back-end messages showing members of Biden’s inner circle attempting to remove criticism of Hunter from the platform before the 2020 election. The “Twitter Files” reveal new details on Twitter’s shady censorship decision, which Musk said was made behind the scenes “at the highest levels of the company” at the behest of Biden officials, confirmation “based upon thousands of internal documents obtained by sources at Twitter.” Weeks ahead of the election in October 2020, Twitter prevented the sharing of a story about Hunter’s involvement with a Chinese oil giant – and his then-presidential candidate father Joe Biden’s potential slice of a multi-million-dollar deal with a Chinese firm.
FROM THE TIME of Burton Abbott’s arrest in 1955 for the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Stephanie Bryan it took less than two years to execute him at San Quentin. Abbott was 27 when he committed the crime.
I BRING it all up because Abbott’s crime was so singular at the time — the placid 1950s — that from the day of the girl’s disappearance to Abbott’s execution, the story was front page news in all the San Francisco newspapers. Similar events now take place every day in every area of the United States. We read about them, shudder, and wait for the next day’s atrocities.
SAN FRANCISCO, AP, 1957 — Doomed by massive circumstantial evidence in a sensational trial, mild-mannered Burton W. Abbott paid with his life 30 years ago for the bludgeon murder of 14-year-old Stephanie Bryan. Abbott, a shy-appearing tubercular who showed the world a dour man with high purpose, gasped his last in the San Quentin gas chamber without confessing he had killed the youngster. But the jury did not believe the righteous picture Abbott painted of himself. And they did not appreciate his sneering laughter as the prosecutor grilled him on the witness stand.
I HAVE a gift subscription to the New York Times, the first time ever for me as a daily reader, and I’m here to assert, boldly, megomaniacally assert, that the tiny rural Boonville weekly more accurately reflects the American reality. And is much more readable, too.
DAVID BROOKS. Really? Thomas Friedman? Gawd save us all. There’s at least one article every day titled, “How to think about whatever,” like we need help from overpaid Democrat ideologues who limo back and forth to work? Here’s today’s how to think about from the newspaper of record. “After Fanning Covid Fears, China Must Now Try to Allay Them.” Got that China? Got yer notebook out America?
ALSO NOTE that the newspaper of record has not yet condescended to report on Hunter’s laptop and the cozy censorship deployed by Twitter at the request of the Democrats. And nothing on social media censorship.
EVERY DAY a new atrocity occurs somewhere in our crumbling country, this one today (Saturday) the murder by a FedEx driver of a 7-year-old Texas girl. Cynics say this is nothing new, that horrific crimes have always been an integral part of the American experience. Nope. There’s been an obvious increase in the incidence of the worst of the worst out of all proportion even to the increase in population driven, in my opinion, by poverty, the degraded and degrading influence of popular culture, pornography, the easy access to guns, collapse of true community, the visual squalor of towns and cities, a corrupt political system, and Scott Simon-ism, aka NPR.
FT. BRAGG SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK
Meet our duo of delightful doggie guests currently hangin’ at the Ft. Bragg Shelter. Blueberry is 2 years old and an adorable 65 pounds. She’s a friendly girl who loves to meet new people. But her greatest joy, apart from snuggling on the couch, is definitely TOYS! BB is leash trained and knows a few commands. Twix is 1-ish years old (perhaps a bit younger) and a very handsome 51 pounds. He’s very people-friendly, social, and playful. Twix has a puppy-like joie de vivre, and every day is fun day for him. He will need basic training, but the bottom line is: he’s a GOOD BOY!
For more about Blueberry and Twix, head to https://www.mendoanimalshelter.com and click on the Ft. Bragg Shelter link. For information about adoptions in Ft. Bragg, please call 707-961-2491.
A SUB FOR MENDO BOYS?
My name is Charles Gielow #BU 4708. I’m from Albion. But I am currently residing in North Kern state prison doing a three-year bid for conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. I’m celled up with another Mendo boy, Joseph Ballard, and we thought we would drop you a quick note to say, “Happy Thanksgiving,” and to let you know how much we miss the AVA we used to get weekly in the county jail. We are both enthusiastic practitioners of “fanning the flames of discontent.” We were wondering if you could find it in your heart to send us the best Christmas present we could hope to get this year. A subscription to your wonderful publication would really make a couple of your “homeboys” day. It would help us not be so homesick for our beloved Mendocino County and so that we can stay up to date on the comings and going of neighbors and friends back home.
Charles Gielow #BU 4708.
North Kern State Prison
PO Box 4999
Delano, CA 93216
PETER GEALEY ART SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT!
My Dad’s cartoon produce signs are on display at Headlands Coffeehouse through the month of December. Come check out these talking fruits and veggies from another era!
First Friday Art Opening tonight from 5-8pm. I’ll be there giving out souvenir sign reproductions while supplies last! Peter Gealey art prints also available for purchase.
It is cooler and rainy in Ukiah, California, and the public library is closed on Sunday and Monday. It is not conceivable to remain in bed, nor hang around the Building Bridges homeless shelter for two days, until the public library opens again on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, have received notification that social security benefits will increase beginning in January 2023; am needing a new pair of shoes. All the while identified with “that which is prior to consciousness”, (which is identical to nirvikalpa samadhi).
Chanting “Om Namah Shivaya”. I’m ready. What would you like to do on the planet earth?
Craig Louis Stehr
LOVE & KISSES
All the inmates and guards here in the Mendocino County Jail read your paper and most have asked me to write something good that is going on with me. I have some clout here for being the funny guy and giving the cops trouble. But they are all good with me. Just recently I was cell-extracted and made them carry me all the way around the jail. But I was separated from someone I love. So this will make them laugh and get my point across. You guys are great. Thanks and God bless.
All Is Fair in Love and War.
This is for someone very dear to my heart, someone I trust, believe in and love, no matter what. Soon to be together again my love, there is no one who can change how I feel for you. You are my night and my day and my every thought. Every second of every minute I think of you a lot. The cops must move me back to 400 block.
They may have won the battle, but I shall win the war.
Luna, Daniel loves you to the moon and back.
Daniel Batten #99931
Mendocino County Jail, Ukiah
CATCH OF THE DAY, Saturday, December 3, 2022
DAVID CAMACHO, Ukiah. Concealed dirk-dagger, contempt of court.
JOSHUA CLEVINGER, Willits. DUI with blood-alcohol over 0.15%, concealed firearm in vehicle with prior, minor passenger.
ESTEBAN DURAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SEAN FLINTON, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
TRAVIS HAWK, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
SEAN LOGAN, Fort Bragg. Probation revocation.
ALEXIS SUTFIN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
DOUG TAYLOR, Little River. Vehicle registration forgery, suspended license, failure to appear.
MYCHELL VEGA-AYALA, Ukiah. Burglary.
AIR IN A BOTTLE WITHOUT THE BOTTLE
A security, by definition, must secure something of value.
Cryptocurrencies do not secure anything of physical value, and they don’t do anything for anyone. The argument that cryptocurrency is money is also bogus. Money, by definition, is a unit of exchange that originates from a securitized debt. There’s that word again. Security. Cryptocurrencies are fresh air in a bottle, minus the fresh air, minus the bottle.
MEMOIRS OF A SHY PORNOGRAPHER.
“You spotted snakes with double tongue, thorny hedgehogs be not seen, newts and blind-worms, do no wrong, come not near our fairy queen.” -W.S.
Here’s the recording of last night’s (2022-12-02) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg (CA): https://tinyurl.com/KNYO-MOTA-0517
Thanks to Hank Sims for tech help, as well as for his fine news site: https://LostCoastOutpost.com
Thanks to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which always provides about an hour of each of my Friday night shows’ most locally relevant material without asking for anything in return, going back decades. Further, thank tiny bravely struggling KNYO itself (KNYO.org). Find the hidden donation heart there and help the station out with a substantial gift from your own hidden heart. Or try the new fire-engine-red vibrantly healthy KNYO hot sauce, for vim and pep. (“It’s toasted!”)
This show was particularly exhausting for me, so I quit half an hour early. Every week, every show since I started doing MOTA in February of 1997, I’ve printed the material out and read it off paper. I’m really used to doing it that way. This time enough things went wrong at the worst possible times that I had to read about two-thirds of the show off one long column on the computer screen. It doesn’t sound like much of a problem, but I found it disorienting and twitchy, and when contradictions arose in the text and story order, that ordinarily I’d move the pages this way or that way and solve in an instant, I was baffled, confused. And you hear that. So... You know what, this is a challenge. I’m going to do it this way on purpose next time and fricking master it. Think of all the paper and materials I’ve been wasting all these years, even though I use each page twice by turning the stack over and printing on the other side.
Besides all that, at https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you’ll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:
People from the somewhat distant past, who had the same basic hopes and needs and disappointments as you do, and I do. The ancient Scotswoman is about to swear gently at you for forgetting her birthday and then kiss you anyway because she knows you didn’t really; the present is in the satchel. /Och, ye didnae; it weren’t needful. But I do love ye, ye great omadhaun!/ (via Neatorama) https://www.livescience.com/gallery-of-reconstructions
The whole spectrum of shyness to boldness, and different levels of situation awareness. Some of them don’t even notice the camera. Some see it, duck their heads and smile painfully cutely... They’re all dead a long time ago. This was their youth and their time. And it’ll happen to me and to you, whether we wink at the camera, or startle and fumble, or what. And in another five thousand or five million years we’re all just rocks and molecules again, part of the earth or other creatures and things, or floating in the water or air or drifting in space. Actually, drifting in space anyway. Everything everywhere is in space.
Here’s another thing you’ve been able to get a job doing for awhile now: shouting along with the game for everybody. Baseball, basketball, ballball, all the sportsball games; they all need people to do it. It’s a skill you can develop, and if you’re good at it you can fly all over the world and shout to millions of people who also, for some reason, care about these details, though you have to memorize the intricacies of the actual game, too. The offside rule, the designated hitter, you can’t spit on the ball or catch one in your hat, you can only castle once, a fair-catch dropkick has to be from the point of the catch, no hitting below the belt, etc. Oh, and with golf, you must not shout but whisper as if over a sleeping baby, even if you’re a mile away in a teevee truck in the parking lot. At KMFB, Lindy Peters used the wired phone to commentate Fort Bragg (California) high school ball games. He was so good at that, they made him mayor of the whole town for two terms. And now that there’s a movement to change the name of Fort Bragg from a slave-owning Civil War monster to something better, the leading two candidates for a new name are The Palms (for the palm trees on Main Street) (that we’ll put there if the name chosen is The Palms), and Lindy Petersville, which has the edge, because it showed up for practice and it came to play.
And, see, you don’t have to scribble all over yourself with psychotic tattoos to be boss. I Break Everything, by Speed of Light. As one old fart wrote afterward: “There’s hope for youth yet.”
*Email me your written work and I’ll read it on the very next MOTA. I don’t care what it’s about, just if there are swears I have to wait until an hour into the show to read it, because then it’s okay.
Marco McClean, email@example.com, https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
BUILDING THE BRIDGEHAVEN BRIDGE, Jenner, 1984
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
I had to laugh the other day when I was in another lily-white suburb of my city, and all the multi-million-dollar mansions in the cul-de-sac had “Hate Has No Home Here.” “BLM,” and other such yard signs at the foot of their driveways.
HOLLYWOOD: It is the essence of this system that it seeks to exploit a talent without permitting it the right to be a talent. It cannot be done; you can only destroy the talent, which is exactly what happens — when there is any to destroy.... It’s an endless contention of tawdry egos, some of them powerful, almost all of them vociferous, and almost none of them capable of anything much more creative than credit-stealing and self-promotion.
— Raymond Chandler
THE CALIFORNIA PRISON ‘DISASTER’ AND HOW TO SALVAGE IT
by Nigel Duara
At the end of a year in which Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed several bills that would have fundamentally changed how California prisons operate, CalMatters conducted a Q&A with the 2022 recipient of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, which Stanford University’s Institute of International Studies calls “equivalent to the Nobel in criminology.”
That recipient, Francis Cullen, is a former president of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and his research has been cited tens of thousands of times. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has brought him in to address its administrators, particularly concerning community corrections programs. Cullen discussed how California went from being an international model for rehabilitation to being a cautionary tale. Among his thoughts: This state needs to learn the difference between liberal and stupid. This interview has been condensed for clarity and length.
Q: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — In its most recent update to a federal court mandate that it reduce its prison population — reported that its facilities were filled to 112% of their capacity. Even that is a big improvement over the drastic overcrowding that prompted the order. Can you help put in context how California got into this situation?
A: It used to be the model of prisons in the country. Even when Ronald Reagan was the governor of California, he cut the prison population from about 26,000 to 18,000. They used to have a big treatment orientation, they hired social workers, and basically it was at the forefront of a rehabilitative model of incarceration.
And then in the ‘60s and into the ‘70s, there was an attack on rehabilitation, for a whole bunch of reasons. But the biggest reason is, if you have a rehabilitation model, then you give a lot of discretion to judges and parole boards. In 1976, California … went to determinate sentencing, and basically gave up rehabilitation as a part of their mission. And you gotta understand, liberals went along with that, because they didn’t like parole. They felt the parole boards were keeping in people that were politically active and weren’t letting them out. (“Rehabilitation” would be added to the prison system’s name in 2006.) California became punitive with its politics. The things that were done, not just in California, but generally, were all justified on the notion that we want inmates to suffer. The more they suffer, the less likely they will be to reoffend, which actually isn’t true. But that was the logic.
And the result, I think, was a disaster. When you get rid of rehabilitation, you take the conscience out of the system. In California this year, we had what has been called the “Norway Prison Bill,” which would have created a pilot program in prisons, with campuses that resemble the prisons in Norway — prisoners who were chosen could cook their own meals and live in communal spaces while getting job training. Newsom vetoed it along with two other measures related to prisons. His veto message wasn’t that these won’t work. His veto message was we cannot afford to spend the money right now. How do you respond to that assertion?
It was stupid to veto that legislation for this reason: the Norway model works. Now, would it work here in the United States, where you have issues of race and other conflict in prison? We have a different population here, we have racial conflict, we have other issues. But having said that, why not do an experiment?
That is, if you did a Norway unit in our prison, you could have studied it for its effectiveness. Can I say definitively that it would have worked here? No. Do I think it would have? Yes, because the principles make sense.
We have had court cases showing that the medical treatment of inmates is insufficient and the conditions in prison are bad. The recidivism rate is high, and there’s a lot of (probation) revocations. It seems to me that arguing that we shouldn’t spend money is a pretty weak rationale. We spend money on punishment, building prisons and locking people away for a long time. So why can’t we spend money on things that are humane and effective?
The other problem with this is, if you don’t invest in people and they come out and they commit crimes, do people understand the cost of that?
There was one study that looked at the cost of, if somebody is a juvenile and becomes a serious offender for a number of years, it’s like $1.3 million dollars.
Not wanting to spend money, when spending money is the only way you invest in people and make them less criminal — it saves money later on. How much is that worth to you?
California had a major prison realignment in 2011. Now, the sheriffs who run county jails say that realignment simply shifted prison populations — and prison politics and prison gangs — into jails. You’ve written, specific to realignment, that “successful downsizing must be liberal but not stupid.” What’s a liberal idea here, and what in your view is a stupid one?
What we’re basically saying by liberal is concern for social justice, not focusing on punishment. An attempt to see that crime is rooted in diverse factors, whether it’s poverty or mental health concerns, rather than saying that crime is just simply a choice, that we need to get tough.
‘Not stupid’ meant that whatever we do in the system should be evidence-based, based on the best science, so the interventions we use should be based on what what criminology has shown works to change people’s behavior.
The question is, when liberals make suggestions about what to do, are they making it based on ideology? Are they making it based on science? Are they looking at the research? Recommending programs that are not rooted in solid science can end up being stupid.
Let’s take bail reform. Now, I’m not against bail reform. There’s some evidence that it works, right? But some bail laws don’t pay enough attention to the risk that people pose. You’ve had problems in San Francisco, where they recalled the prosecutor (former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who had ended his office’s practice of asking for money bail.)
And maybe that was a bad thing to do. But if you implement bail reform that doesn’t have the support of the staff, that is going to end up letting people out who inevitably are going to commit serious crimes.
That’s the kind of thing that can delegitimize liberal approaches. Now bail reform is being attacked all over the country.
So that would be an example of, did they do an empirical investigation of what the effect of bail would be? In other words, you can do bill reform scientifically, or you can do it politically.
Is that what you meant when you wrote, “The failure of past reforms aimed at decarceration stand as a sobering reminder that good intentions do not easily translate into good results.”
Yeah, one would probably be when we decided to pretty much empty and close down most mental institutions, the hospitals for the mentally ill.
We dumped a lot of people onto the street, and didn’t have services for them. And so it was a good thing that people weren’t in mental hospitals, right? But we didn’t create a system to care for those people in the community, so a lot of those people ended up on the street, homeless, in the jail system, in the criminal justice system. And we still haven’t completely dealt with that.
It’s one of the sources of homelessness. It’s not the only one, but that would be the biggest example of when we essentially de-institutionalized a whole bunch of people and then didn’t have any programs to deal with that.
The point is, even today, I mean we do have more (post-prison) reentry programs, but a lot of people we let out of prison, they have mental problems, they don’t have medicine, they don’t have a place to live, they don’t have a job. And it makes no sense to do that.
It seems, in California, that there’s an attitude that nothing works, and nothing will work, to reduce the prison population and improve rehabilitative outcomes. You’ve written about that sentiment in corrections, which you describe as a period of pessimism. Is there a feeling of helplessness when you study this issue? (Cullen sighs.)
Corrections is sort of like trying to fight cancer. You gotta chip away at it, look for the small benefits. But over 20 years, it can make a difference.
It’s almost like no one whose responsibility it is to change what’s happening is doing anything about it. If no one takes responsibility, then it won’t change. There needs to be almost a social movement, a demand that we do prisons better. Any other business that was run like the prisons would be out of business. They’d be bankrupt.
We do not hold the wardens responsible for the recidivism rates of the people in their prisons. Think about this, okay: If you look at people who are released from prison, which would include both the people who are in for the first time and people in for the second, third, fourth time, you get 50 percent to 60 percent recidivism rates.
If you’re spending that much money and you’re having a failure rate of 60 percent, what does that cost us? Not just the money, but people injured and dying or property damaged? I mean, that degree of failure shouldn’t be acceptable. Think about a hospital where 60 percent of the people die or get worse.
What’s disappointing is that something as small as a Norway experiment can’t even be funded. It’s just gonna lead to a lot of misery inside institutions and a lot of high recidivism rates.
It’s like, you’re California! You should want a return to greatness. You should be the best in the world.
SUFFERING HAS BEEN STRONGER than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.
— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I ALWAYS THOUGHT that we all have to figure out how we are going to make our way in the world. Okay, I know I don’t want to, as the servers say, “move inland and pay taxes.” I want to do something more interesting than that. Crime can certainly be more interesting. But I always felt like you take a big risk when you go outside of the law to make money. If you can get people to pay you for your imagination, it’s fun. That’s the way to get through. That’s better than figuring out the legal scams.
People ask me from time to time: why do you write about the kind of people who you write about? I just started to write. Maybe because my family was so completely middle-class. Aside from the fact that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they were really a kind of Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best. My mom stayed home, my dad worked, it was classic baby boomer, middle-class life. So I was always drawn to things that seemed more exotic. There was something insular about that kind of life, you look at those old TV shows and there was no awareness of race relations, no awareness of a whole lot of things. I mean, rebelling against the 50s was what the 60s were about. There is a lot of life out there that we just aren’t open to, whether it’s the good part or the bad part. I was drawn to characters who were more on the edge. Also being a Jehovah’s Witness I felt this really odd combination of feeling very normal in one way and yet kind of an outcast in another way.
— Kem Nunn
CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT BIDEN IMPOSED A LABOR AGREEMENT between major railroad companies and their workers last week, averting the possibility of a strike that would have disrupted the economy in the middle of the holiday shopping season. The agreement gives rail workers a pay raise and other benefits but not paid medical leave. I spoke to my colleague Peter S. Goodman, who covers supply chains, about what’s behind the workers’ discontent.
interview by Ian Prasad Philbrick (New York Times)
Ian: The deal that Congress enforced is one that the Biden administration helped negotiate earlier this year, which several unions rejected. Why were they against it?
Peter: The lack of paid sick leave caused the workers I spoke with to vote it down, that and draconian scheduling policies. Rail workers are constantly missing wedding anniversaries, funerals, birthday parties. It’s baked into the job. But in addition to that, there’s pressure to be at the job site even when they’ve got emergencies or sick children.
Here’s an example. I talked to a guy named Anthony Gunter, who’s based in eastern Tennessee and worked on maintenance crews repairing tracks for Norfolk Southern Railway. His dad had worked there for 40 years, and Gunter remembers trying to sneak into his duffel bag as a kid to join him on the road. Gunter regularly worked four 10-hour shifts in a row, swinging giant hammers, pounding stakes into railroad ties. His son had been born with a heart defect, and last year he stayed home for his son’s surgery. His supervisor pressured him to come back, saying: “You’re putting me in a tough spot. You have to be here.” Gunter was furious, so he quit.
Wow. That sounds like a difficult choice. What about workers who ended up supporting the deal?
There was unhappiness even among workers whose unions voted to ratify it. But their calculus was: Let’s be pragmatic. There’s no way in hell they’re going to let us strike, Congress is going to intervene and this is the best we’re going to get.
The deal did benefit workers on the issue of reimbursements for lodging on the road. Many rail workers spend long periods away from their families, with schedules subject to change. Maintenance gang workers like Gunter, who sometimes drove 12 hours from his home, have traditionally been given reimbursement rates so low that they eat terribly and stay two or three to a room in crappy motels. One worker told me he buys cheap clothes to sleep in and throws them away because he’s scared of bringing bedbugs home to his family. So higher reimbursement rates are a victory.
Have working conditions always been this bad for rail workers?
From the beginning, in the 19th century, the railroads were run by financiers who operated them as financial assets, often to the detriment of service. Union Pacific, one of the companies that built the Transcontinental Railroad, made a priority of securing land from the federal government instead of creating efficient routes. Another company pressed Chinese laborers into service to build the tracks to drive down wages. So railroads have always employed fairly ruthless techniques to keep a lid on costs while rewarding investors.
And you can argue that what they’ve done in recent years is about gratifying Wall Street. They laid off nearly a third of their work force before the pandemic, worsening freight service while increasing profits, and handed out handsome stock dividends. It’s good for shareholders. It’s good for investors. But shippers have complained, and it’s miserable for workers because there are fewer people to do the same amount of work.
It seems unusual for the president and Congress to have this much say over labor disputes.
Yeah, the Railway Labor Act, which gives them this power, is an outlier. It goes all the way back to tumultuous strikes in 1877 that shut down rail service and prompted the president to send in troops. Because there are now alternatives to shipping by rail, like trucking, many labor experts argue that it’s an outdated system that gives the railroads leverage over their work force. Rail workers can try to strike, but their only real play is to threaten to sabotage the American supply chain, to disrupt economic life for everyone.
As you noted, we now have trucks to move cargo. So how essential are trains today?
A hell of a lot of stuff still travels by rail — 40 percent of freight in the U.S. And it’s a central piece of the global supply chain. What we’ve learned through the great supply chain disruption during the pandemic is that if any part of that system slows down, we get backups everywhere else.
A strike would have produced a real economic shock. There would have been shortages of chlorine used in wastewater treatment plants and chemicals used to make paints and fertilizers. It would have meant higher prices for crops and other goods at a time when people are already paying more for groceries because of inflation. It would have disrupted jobs that depend on rail to move stuff, whether it’s retail workers or contractors working on houses.
It’s clear that the Biden administration recognized the political pitfalls of telling rail workers that the work they do is more important than the terms of their compensation. Biden was clearly spooked by the prospect of another supply chain crisis on his watch. And he opted not to force the railroads to swallow paid sick leave as the cost of averting a strike.
(Peter S. Goodman has reported on supply chains for three decades and from more than three dozen countries. He’s the author of “Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World” and is working on his next book, about pandemic shipping disruptions, called “How the World Ran Out of Everything.”)
YOU CAN’T CALL the Democratic Party’s almost unanimous decision to back a strikebusting bill against railroad workers a “betrayal.” It’s more like the ultimate fulfillment of a project begun in 1985 with the birth of DLC (Democratic Leadership Committee) designed to unshackle the party from its decades-long bond with organized labor so that it could free itself up to fill its campaign coffers with corporate cash.
The DLC was founded by the likes of Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, after Mondale’s loss. The DLC cynically titled their “think tank” the Progressive Policy Institute, although the only thing “progressive” about it was how it progressively moved away from the New Deal political programs which had come to define the modern Democratic Party.
Justified as a reformation of the party to attract white working class voters (the so-called Reagan Democrats), the “free” trade policies of the DLC and the Clinton/Gore administration hit the working class harder than almost any policies of the Reagan/Bush era. As the job losses from NAFTA took hold, Clinton (with Biden’s support) slashed the social safety net that would have cushioned the blows.
Now, Biden himself stands forth as the latest Reagan, whose poll numbers soared after he busted the PATCO strikers, prepared to stomp on the very workers he claimed to represent but never has when push comes to shove. (For more on this history see our new book, An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents.)
Democrats are always “pro-labor” until that crucial moment when labor asserts itself against the machinery of corporate profit-making. How the neoliberal Biden–the go-to senator for bankers, credit card companies, and the DuPonts–has gotten away w/ his Scranton Joe routine for 50 years is a mystery. The only unions he ever truly supported are the ones whose members are cops, firefighters and prison guards…
— Jeffrey St. Clair
ED NOTE: Only three California Democrats voted No. Northcoast flab-glab lib-labs will be happy to learn that the noble three did not include Congressman Huffman. The noble three were Norma Torres; Mark DeSauliner; Judy Chu.
ON THIS DATE IN 1981, Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Fernando Valenzuela was named the National League Rookie of the Year after an impressive debut that also earned the 21-year-old southpaw the NL Cy Young Award. No other MLB pitcher has ever claimed Rookie of the Year and Cy Young honors in the same season.
In rookie balloting, Valenzuela won by a substantial margin over Montreal Expos speedster Tim Raines to become the third consecutive Dodger to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. All three were pitchers, with Rick Sutcliffe honored in 1979 and Steve Howe in 1980.
Valenzuela had an immediate impact in 1981, throwing shutouts in five of his first seven starts. He shut out the Houston Astros on five hits on Opening Day, and when he blanked the New York Mets on May 8 to record his fifth shutout, the portly lefty was 7-0, had allowed single runs in his two other starts, and had a 0.29 ERA in the course of working seven straight complete games. He made it eight in a row his next time out, a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos, improving to 8-0 and moving the NL West-leading Dodgers to 23-9 on the season.
Fernandomania broke out across Major League Baseball. Only a labor dispute that shut down the game for 50 days in the middle of the season could slow Valenzuela’s ascent. Teams played 103-110 games in a split-season. The rookie finished 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA and led the NL in starts (25), complete games (11), shutouts (and strikeouts (180). If claiming two major offseason awards wasn’t enough, Valenzuela placed fifth in NL MVP voting, finishing behind the winner, Mike Schmidt, and Andre Dawson, George Foster and Dave Concepción.
Valenzuela added three more wins in the postseason, going 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA in five October outings for the Dodgers, who went on to win a six-game World Series over the New York Yankees. After the Yankees won the first two games at Yankee Stadium, Valenzuela went the distance in Game 3, a 5-4 win at Dodger Stadium. He issued seven walks and allowed all four runs in the first three innings, but stuck around and pitched in and out of trouble before shutting down the Yankees 1-2-3 in the ninth. The Dodgers won the next three games to close out the Series.
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
1952 SIERRA BLIZZARD TURNED SNOWBOUND LUXURY TRAIN INTO FRIGID HELL
by Peter Hartlaub
When the Southern Pacific train “City of San Francisco” hit a snowbank on Jan. 13, 1952, during one of the worst blizzards of the 20th Century, the passengers were thrown into days of freezing cold, food shortages and claustrophobia.
But the worst part may have been the odor.
“The air aboard the train is foul,” Chronicle reporter Art Hoppe reported, upon reaching the disaster by skis. “There is great difficulty in keeping even minimum ventilation because the snow has to be shoveled away from the windows before they can be opened. In addition, the plumbing has frozen and the toilets and drains aren’t working.”
Every time freezing temperatures descend on the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle archive is filled with reminders that things could be much, much worse.
There are few more spectacle-filled arcs in the pages of the newspaper than the Southern Pacific disaster, which was packed with drama involving passengers, failed rescue attempts and the newspaper’s reporter and photographer — who managed to get to the train and cover the story more than a day before rescue crews arrived.
The accident came in the middle of a series of storms that had wrecked the state, with flooding throughout the Bay Area and snow falling near Lake Tahoe all but four days during the two-month period starting Nov. 13, 1951.
“The angry elements rose up and smote the western slopes of this continent yesterday, with the violence of winds and snows and waters unequaled in memory of all but the oldest among us,” The Chronicle reported the day before the disaster.
And yet the luxury passenger train heading westbound from Chicago carried on, plowing through a snowstorm and 100-mile-per-hour winds until 1 p.m. Sunday, when it was halted by a snowbank on the tracks at Crystal Lake, elevation 5,200 feet, between Yuba Pass and Donner Summit.
At first the passengers didn’t panic, watching three eastbound trains pass on adjacent tracks and figuring they’d be moving soon. But by nightfall, the train was nearly covered in snow. A Southern Pacific rescue train filled with dogsled teams also got buried in snow, miles short of the City of San Francisco. Several snowplow vehicles heading to the train were overturned and stranded.
The drama escalated the first night, when exhaust pipes for several butane heaters were blocked by the growing snowbank, sending gas back into the car and nearly killing dozens of passengers. Navy enlisted man Harold Norcross led a group that saved several unconscious men and women.
“Some of them were so far gone from the fumes, we had to break in the doors of their compartments to get them out,” Norcross told The Chronicle.
Future Chronicle columnist Hoppe and photographer Ken McLaughlin, in the area to cover the weather, began a trek to get the story. After failed attempts to reach the train using snowshoes and later a tractor, the pair rented skis and completed a harrowing 2 ½ hour journey that involved “slipping, stumbling and crawling around boulders festooned with icicles and the buried wrecks of snowplows.”
The journalists found the train nearly covered in snow. They dug a hole to a window and crawled through to meet the stunned passengers, who were initially furious to see the pair.
“If these newspapermen can get in,” one passenger exclaimed, “why can’t we get out?”
Hoppe described a disturbing scene as the reporter and photographer set foot inside.
“As we entered a musty sour odor of stale breath, heating fumes and cold food hit us,” Hoppe wrote. “Only an occasional red lantern glimmered as we groped toward the passenger car.”
McLaughlin added: “The women were huddled like war refugees. Their feet were wrapped in sheets and odds and ends of clothing. The men tried to help keep them comfortable, but comfort was a foreign word in the dank interior.”
While the morale was low — passengers composed telegrams requesting help from President Harry Truman and California Governor William Knowland — heroes were abound.
The train’s 30 “Mexican workers,” as The Chronicle identified them, brought to handle baggage and cooking, exited the train each morning and dug new holes next to the the railcar windows to keep sick passengers ventilated.
Ski instructors from Soda Springs traversed the snowstorm to bring supplies, including bags of candy for the children. A whiskey dealer for Hiram Walker threw a fundraising party in the City of San Francisco’s club car, selling free samples he was carrying, raising $100 for train workers who continued to feed and care for passengers.
And Dr. Walter H. Roehill of Ohio, the only doctor on board, worked with Army nurses to treat passengers who were experiencing vomiting, headaches and diarrhea from the gas leak.
“I had few medicines with me. I was on vacation,” he said. “The only treatment for most of them was fresh air. We gave them plenty of that by breaking windows in the compartments.”
The third night was the worst. Passengers woke up with no daylight; more snow had accumulated overnight, covering nearly the entire train.
“All the lights in the cars were out,” Hoppe wrote. “And even when dawn came, it was difficult to recognize it, for the windows were blocked with snow. As the night wore on, the train got colder and damper and the foul air seemed almost to curdle.”
Southern Pacific officials never reached the passengers. But on the afternoon of Jan. 16, 1952, a group of state workers cleared a path up Highway 40 toward the train just wide enough for one car, and the train’s Mexican workers built a 1,500-foot path from the train to the road, packing down the snow with their shoes.
Most of the passengers walked, with some getting dragged up the hill in makeshift toboggans built by the workers. They were driven to a nearby lodge, allowed to eat and shower, then placed on trains to Oakland, where they were greeted as celebrities.
By Donner Summit standards the rescue was a success. In the end there was no cannibalism and only one fatality; an engineer on a rescue team who was killed when his plow was buried by an avalanche.
The train remained buried in snow for three more weeks.
I HAD SEEN ENOUGH. I operate best when I am not swayed by smells, sights, noises; sense impressions can overload my brain as on the day of the Father’s funeral. I need first-hand experience to be able to decipher and evaluate the flow of information passed on by my agents and adjutants. But I am a quick student — one look is usually enough. From then on, I can often understand what is happening better than those who are in the middle of the action.
— Lenin, as channeled by Alan Brien
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Friedrich Engels! Karl Marx’s closest comrade and co-thinker was born on this day in 1820.
“Nothing is more terrible than being constrained to do some one thing every day from morning until night against one’s will.”
UKRAINE, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3RD
All EU governments have completed the written approval of the $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, the European Commission has said.
Russia “will not accept” a price cap after G7 nations, Australia and the European Union agreed to cap the price of Russian seaborne oil at $60 a barrel.
Russia says it will continue to find buyers for its oil despite “dangerous” price caps. The price cap should be $30 per barrel “to destroy the enemy’s economy quicker,” a senior Ukraine official said.
Officials in the southern region of Kherson announced they would help citizens evacuate from parts of Russian-occupied territory on the east bank of the Dnieper river during intensified fighting.
A VOICE OF SANITY IN THE UKRAINE WAR
by Ellen Taylor
The Monroe Doctrine has been a No-Trespassing sign nailed to the gate of US foreign policy for almost 300 years. Naval exercises are performed by the US in places like the Yellow and South China Seas. Enacted by other countries off our coasts, however, they would be unthinkable. Take the Cuban missile crisis, for instance, in which the USSR placed missiles in Cuba as a tit-for-tat retort to the US placement of nukes in Turkey.
It almost destroyed the planet.
When it comes to other countries’ security needs, however, US ignores their demand for equivalent safety. With our almost 1000 naval bases around the world, installed in other countries, and our Full Spectrum Dominance: of the sea, air and space, the Monroe Doctrine has morphed into the Plan for the New American Century, a creation of Dick Cheney and Friends during the ‘90s and still adhered to today.
Dr. Benjamin Abelow, MD, taking the case of Russia, discusses the consequences of this policy in a new book, How the West Brought War to Ukraine. In defiance of the agreement between Gorbachev and Reagan, negotiated In the late 1980s when the Berlin Wall went down, NATO began to encircle Russia with military bases. Seven Warsaw Pact countries were invited to join NATO, an organization whose very reason for existing was enmity towards Russia. Despite many other provocations and baiting, Russia, though denouncing it, tolerated NATO’s threatening advance toward its borders for three decades. For the last 15 years, however, Russia has repeatedly proclaimed that it draws the line at NATO membership for Ukraine.
That Dr Abelow was able to publish this book is a good sign. Only a few months ago, fueled by our government’s deranged hostility for Russia, we were burning Dostoevsky novels, and banning Russian opera singers and dog show contestants. Americans who follow the war have been persuaded by our politicians and our press that Putin is just like Hitler: he wants to conquer the world and enslave us all. Dr. Abelow’s book repudiates this madness. The book is accessible, short, and vivid, giving it a fair chance, if it gets through the fires, of being read by many people.
In the book, he describes the relentless flow of NATO/US provocations of Ukraine. He organizes the provocations before, and after, the coup of 2014, an event in which the malign intent of the US is revealed in a leaked phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, as they, in the words of Russian expert Stephen Cohen quoted by Abelow “plotted to midwife a new anti-Russian government by ousting or neutralizing a democratically elected president…” and installing the US’s chosen candidate.
As he documents Russia’s rising alarm, he describes NATO’s and the US’s mocking responses to it’s expostulations: the US has no intention to hurt or threaten Russia! In spite of their being located on Russia’s border, a few minutes shot from Moscow and other targets, the ABMs are really intended for Iran and North Korea. He comments:
“In doing all this the West has suggested that Mr. Putin is imagining strategic threats where none in fact exist. This Western framing - which posits a lack of legitimate Russian security concerns coupled with implied and explicit accusations of irrationality - underlie much of the currently dominant narrative.”
He compares it to gaslighting.
Dr. Abelow presents Zelensky as a tragic victim: a man who won his presidential campaign on a strong mandate for peace with Russia and an end to the bombing of the Donbas, but who was turned by the US/NATO. Their trumpeting of him as a champion of “freedom”, and sending vast amounts of US armaments, US expert trainers, for seven years, until the Ukrainian military was a crack fighting force, blinded him, and he ended up throwing his country to the wolves.
“Really”, says Abelow,” what sane person could believe that putting a Western arsenal on Russia’s border would not produce a strong response? What sane person could believe that placing this arsenal would enhance American security?”
And he asks, further, where does that leave us?
Dr. Abelow is very gentle with us citizens, so easily swayed to spend away our own national welfare, our plans to engage the climate crisis, poverty, all our other problems, and back a Congress that votes almost 100% to fund a catastrophically evil war.
Our rulers, however, have put us “in a very bad spot…which could only have been arrived at through a level of American governmental stupidity and blindness, and among the leaders of Europe, a level of deference and cowardice that is almost inconceivable.”
Indeed. Almost inconceivable. When International and Russian Affairs expert Gilbert Doctorow was asked what he thinks American citizens should know, he remarks, and Dr Abelow, quotes,
“Your lives are in danger…Mr Putin has been on record that he does not contemplate a world without Russia. And if the American intent is to destroy Russia, then the American intent will be self-destruction”.
Dr Abelow’s characterization of US motives in the Ukraine conflict,“ foolish”, is more sanguine than dissident views one hears from others, such as that the US/NATO is trying to “weaken Russia”, the US is testing its weapons for the real conflict it plans with China, that the war will be waged until the last Ukrainian left standing.
Whatever. But the book ends with a vivid image, applicable to both assessments, and recalling Dante’s inferno: of NATO and US policymakers standing “up to their hips in a barrel of viscous mud”, with extrication of “themselves...and the rest of us, difficult to imagine.”
(Ellen Taylor lives in Humboldt County and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)